Musgrove: Technology can help economic development

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2000

A rural store selling weapons and wedding dresses ordered from anywhere in the world illustrates how important technology is to economic development, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove told regional leaders Friday.

When traveling in a rural part of the state recently, the governor said, he was intrigued by a sign at a country store advertising beer, wedding dresses and guns for sale.

&uot;It was obvious to me geography doesn’t matter anymore,&uot; Musgrove told the audience at the first Southwest Mississippi Economic Symposium. Because businesses can order anything they want over the Internet, a rural location is &uot;not an impediment to being able to do business in today’s economy.&uot;

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Musgrove told the group when focusing on development, rural areas need to consider company incentives and other issues such as water, sewage, housing and transportation.

And transportation means more than regular highways, he said. &uot;The highway of communication is going to be the most important highway any of us travel five years from now — 10 years from now,&uot; he said.

Musgrove also urged area leaders to work together when seeking economic development.

&uot;When it happens to one of your counties remember its a benefit to every county in Southwest Mississippi,&uot; he said.

In the past, Musgrove said, Southwest Mississippi has been &uot;left out or not emphasized&uot; in terms of economic development. &uot;We need to stop that. We need to reserve that trend,&uot; he said. &uot;(We) need all areas of the state to be just as competitive&uot; in seeking industry.

A crowd of people filled the Vo-Tech building at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus Friday to listen to Musgrove’s speech.

&uot;I appreciate his commitment to economic development and his emphasis on cooperation and regionalism,&uot; said Billy Stewart, dean of community services at Co-Lin Wesson.

Natchez Mayor F. L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said he has some questions about taking a regional approach to economic development. He wondered how something that benefits Lawrence County, for example, would help Adams County. &uot;I think if that was clear I think it might be less stressful to everyone involved,&uot; Smith said.

But Smith said meetings like Friday’s symposium are a good sign. &uot;If nothing else, it shows a joint recognition of the problem and a joint willingness, I think, to do something about it,&uot; he said.